Giancarlo Stanton (shoulder) expected back Thursday

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Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton hasn’t played in a week because of a left shoulder contusion. But things are suddenly looking up for the young slugger.

According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, Stanton felt fine after taking batting practice on Wednesday afternoon and is scheduled to return to the Marlins’ starting lineup for Thursday night’s series-opener against the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

“Stanton hit today, and he said things felt good,” manager Mike Redmond told reporters before Wednesday’s series-finale with the Nationals. “He should be good to go for tomorrow. That’s a good sign, obviously. We all know how important he is to this lineup. That’s good news. He felt better today.”

Stanton was batting just .167 with a .575 OPS in nine games before the injury, but it shouldn’t take him long to get going. The 23-year-old hit .290/.361/.608 with 37 home runs and 86 RBI in 123 games last season.

Giants sign Austin Jackson to two-year, $6 million contract

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The Giants announced on Monday night the signing of outfielder Austin Jackson. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, it’s a two-year, $6 million deal with performance incentives that allow Jackson to earn up to an additional $2.5 million for a total of $8.5 million.

Jackson, who soon turns 31 years old, spent last season with the Indians. In 318 plate appearances, he hit .318/.387/.482 with seven home runs, 35 RBI, and 46 runs scored.

The Giants have been on the hunt for a center fielder and Jackson addresses that need relatively cheaply. Jackson will join Hunter Pence and newcomer Andrew McCutchen in the outfield.